Polk awarded grant for Little White Oak Mountain

Published 11:39 pm Sunday, October 17, 2021

Parks and recreation awarded $336K for land and new trails

MILL SPRING—The Polk County Parks and Recreation Department was recently awarded a grant for $336,000 to purchase land and create new trails at Little White Oak Mountain. 

The project was awarded the grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, which awarded more than $5 million to fund 14 parks and recreation projects across the state. Governor Roy Cooper made the announcement recently about the PARTF grants, which included the one for Polk County. 

The PARTF is through the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. 

The grant will allow the county to fund Phase I of the Little White Oak Mountain Project, which is located behind Polk County Middle School with plans for biking trails and other outdoor activities. 

Phase I includes building several miles of mountain biking trails, an outdoor classroom, a bike repair station, trailside picnic area, corn hole/horseshoe pits and installation of a new playground equipment. 

Polk County Parks and Recreation Interim Director Laura Baird said the department is extremely excited to break ground and make the plans a reality. 

“The Little White Oak Mountain Trail Network is the perfect example of the kind of collaboration that makes this region special,” Baird said. “We’d like to thank Conserving Carolina, the Polk County Community Foundation and everyone else who has given their time and resources to the design and funding of this project.” 

The first phase of the project will include the first 5.41 miles of the trails, which will be built on land that connects the existing Polk County Recreation Complex and Polk County Middle School. The project will also include 2 picnic areas and an outdoor classroom that will be available for anyone to use for their outdoor education, according to the grant application. 

The first phase also includes the installation of a bike repair station, the renovation of the existing playground to accommodate users of all abilities, to refinish the restrooms and to install the corn hole and horseshoe station. 

The funding will also allow the county to purchase 140 acres of land from Conserving Carolina that will connect the Little White Oak Mountain property to the new workforce housing complex. 

Gov. Cooper said the local parks and recreation projects funded by these grants are especially important this year as the public use of parks, trails and greenways has increased during the pandemic. 

“These projects will give families additional healthy options to get active and outdoors close to home,” Cooper said. 

Polk County’s future phases include a full 10-mile bike trail and to build a greenway to connect to the housing project. 

Construction of the first phase is set to begin in late winter/early spring and is expected to be complete by the end of 2024.